New cyclist... looking for advice on bike/kit/etc

(18 Posts)
MommyUpNorth Mon 10-Sep-12 12:34:36

Finally all our little ones are in school, and I've had a few rides out on Dh's bike. He's got a very second hand mountain bike (?? it has very thick tyres, and a very chunky frame)... It's very heavy, but I just wanted to try it out and see how I got on. I haven't ridden a bike since childhood!

We live in a very rural location, so not much traffic with lots of B road riding going on to single track roads. The surface is fine. First day out with our 2 older kids and we did a 9 mile slightly hilly ride, and last night went out with dd and did an 11 mile run which was just lovely (sunset and mountains in the distance... fab!).

I'm looking for any advice on what I really need to get myself going. Budget isn't too much of an issue, but I think I'll need advice on everything. Also, I'm keen to find out the best type of lights/helmet/clothing to be as visible as possible. We're obviously trying to be as safe as possible, but any extra help when we're coming round single track bends would be great. I'd like to be as bright as possible without looking like a clown! grin

I've been going through some of the cycling threads on here and looking at the different bikes linked to, but I don't really know what I would be looking for. We have basic 'sports' shops up by us, but the nearest independent bike shop is probably about 100ish miles south (told you we were rural!), so I'll probably need to do most of the background work/measurements myself.

Thanks!

JRsandCoffee Mon 10-Sep-12 14:01:59

Hello

Vastly pregnant and very sadly not riding at the moment but would love to reply.

I would ear mark a day to make the trip to a decent bike shop to try as many bikes out as you possibly can, make sure before you go that they will let you test ride and also make sure that they will do a proper fitting. What works for one may seriously not work for another. My friend and I are on the face of it relatively similar but our bikes are totally different and riding each other's not only feels like wearing someone else's shoes but wearing them on the wrong feet to boot!!!

Consider carefully what kind of riding that you think you will really want to do, on road/ off road/ mix of the two/ serious mountain bike and if a mix then what kind of tracks you are looking at. I've got three bikes - Marin Hybrid which was the bike my DH bought me to see if I'd like riding again, Bianchi road bike with zippy wheels on it which I've done a few sportives and a multi day charity ride on and a Ridgeback Panorama tourer which if I had to keep only one bike would be the one I'd keep, no question. Also have access to a mountain bike should I feel the urge....which I don't as am not really interested in serious off roading, I kind of like zipping along on tarmac or pootling on paths and so the MB is never the one I go for!!!

Soooo bikes......The hybrid is great for nipping into town etc (panniers......) and I did used to do a 17 mile commute on it and it is great for paths as has some suspension - the last bike I rode (sob!). However, not that speedy which became an issue and also quite hard work on the hills even in low gear. I'd probably now look at a variety of different models to see if I could find something more forgiving on the hills and possibly a tricross bike. Flat bars which feels a lot more natural to start with if you didn't ride a road bike as a child, I now don't really like that position that much!!!

Road bike is lovely, lovely, lovely, she's a man's bike, do not be convinced on principle by the whole woman specific thing, it very much depends on your size/ shape, if the bike fits etc. Light, speedy and fabulous, clippy pedals, the works and er totally pointless day to day for me as I hate riding with a rucksack on. Faintly scared by how fast she goes, very forgiving on hills - has a compact chainset on, feel she's wasted on me but figure she'll still be there and a good bike in a couple of years when I might have an outside chance of leisure riding!!!

Tourer is just a great bike, the one I personally find most comfortable, double sided pedals for clipping or not, pannier racks which I personally find incredibly useful, could ride it for miles, triple - granny gear available for any high % hill shaped horrors, people are always suprised how quick she goes for a fairly heavy bike. I've also done a lot of tracks, paths and indeed bridleways on this bike and never had a problem, wouldn't set out to do a whole day of bumpy off road but without a doubt would ride tow paths, and reasonably level paths without a second thought.

Re viz stuff - lights, lights, lights.....I have my main lights for if I know that I'll be out in darkness which I wouldn't leave on if leaving in town as expensive to replace and clip on and off so aren't always on the bike and I also have a set of knog lights front and back which weigh nothing and routinely come out with me in case the weather changes, also have a back light on my helmet.

www.minx-girl.com sells fabulous bike clothes for girls.

And breathe.......
Sorry for v. long ramble!!!

MommyUpNorth Mon 10-Sep-12 14:41:12

Thank you so much for taking the time to write out that reply! So much to think about!

I really think that I will be a road cyclist for a long time as I feel quite comfortable doing that and we all know our way around. If I were to branch out to off road adventures I'd probably get another bike for that. There is no nipping into town around here... it would be a 15ish mile cycle to get there! I'd like to get into longer distances as soon as I get a proper bike.

Very interesting about the pannier racks on different types of bikes... I would like to get them on whatever bike I go for as I wouldn't want to have a rucksack on while riding. I have a very comfy one for hiking, but I get way to warm riding, so don't really want any extra material.

Had minx girl bookmarked for clothing... just trying to narrow down what to get! smile

Will look into a light for my helmet as that sounds like a great idea!

Thanks again for all the useful info! smile

JRsandCoffee Mon 10-Sep-12 18:34:40

Chuckles, you are certainly rural!!! How far exactly up north are you??

Hmm, well I like panniers lots and particularly if you are cycling with DCs and like me don't like rucksacks then it sounds like you'd be after either a reasonably nippy hybrid or a tourer - you'd leave the poor DCs in a cloud of dust on a decent road bike unless they are nearly teenage size and/ or very competetive....

The former is more likely to come with flat bars the latter with racer type bars. I never thought that I'd like the road bike position but I've now completely changed and don't like being in the more upright position for any distance at all, forward much more comfy long distance..... As I said in first post, my love affair with my panorama is pretty intense but that isn't to say that it would work for someone else although do know a few other fans out there!!! Try lots!

I had a little dribble at the minx site today.........sigh.........not even the most spacious of bottoms would come near me at the mo ;-) If I was buying bike clothes from scratch I'd probably get.....

A decent waterproof in a bright colour that folds down small enough to go into a back pocket - I've got a Gore one and it goes in the back pocket of my cycling shirt or takes up very little space in a pannier full of other caboodle. Bike waterproofs are either longer than average or have a fold down flap bit that can come down when it rains and cover your bum. I tried in my hiking one about twice before abandoning that idea, I got it sweaty and was uncomfortable....I had a commuter type one which was brilliant high viz wise but a nightmare of sweatiness and ended up investing in the Gore one which was better ventilated etc so maybe something to bear in mind.

A pair of capris complete with padded insert (you can always join the dots with leg warmers when it gets cold if you are only doing an bit of riding through the winter).

Cycling shirt in a nice bright colour (visibility....) with at least two back pockets for stuff general, you get very used to reaching back to your pocket for banana, flapjack, energy bar, jacket - easier than raiding the pannier if on a quick pit stop. You can put an extra layer under so for example a long or short sleeved cycling shirt with a merino base under it for extra warmth and if you hike I'm guessing you have base layers, mine do multitask, unlike the waterproofs.

Cycling shoes - these have rigid soles and regardless of whether you do the clipped in thing it makes a big difference to the amount of power you put through the pedal to effort ratio thingy.... You can get mountain bike type ones that are ok for doing a bit of walking around in and come with a bit your prize off the sole to fix in the clippy in bit. Cycling shoes also tend to either have non lace fastenings or a bit that anchors down the lace bit - this means that they won't get caught in the mech etc which can be er, catastrophic hedge ornament incident inducing.

Winter socks.....if like me you have lizard (cold) feet, hiking ones didn't work out for me..

If lots of cycling on the cards....
A pair of winter tights, they really are good, lovely warm things

Windproof - either long or short sleeved, I do ride in a salamon one that I have for hiking and that works well and also have a vest type one that I also like and has more reflective stuff on it.

More cycling shirts, cos theres lots of cute ones out there wink There are also those smart but spendy ones that are waterproof, DH has some of those and swears by them!

Something I didn't get on with particularly well with and didn't really get the point of was waterproof trousers - just sweaty and annoying I'm guessing - unless you live in the middle of a cold rain cloud in which case possibly more of a point or can afford the kings ransom to buy very posh ones!!! Also cycling stuff generally tends to dry quite quickly and as you have noted it is quite a warm passtime so even if you get caught in the rain you tend to dry relatively quickly.....

Sigh, such a geek...........

ItsAllGoingToBeFine Mon 10-Sep-12 18:41:08

This site:

http://www.whycycle.co.uk/

has lots of good info on it...

MommyUpNorth Mon 10-Sep-12 19:34:23

We're up on the north coast of Scotland... so about as far north as you can get on the mainland! smile Thinking about if I am fit enough to cycle up to the top of Dunnet Head just so I can fly back down at great speed... I'm not sure that I would actually make it up though!

Again, thanks for all the info on the clothing... so brilliant! I'll have to start serious browsing now & actually narrow down the choices. smile

We do get quite a bit of rain, and I probably will cycle more in the cooler weather... love doing hiking/walking in winter rather than summer. Not terribly fussed about being completely waterproof as the rain is usually very refreshing! Plus we're just going to be on days out in the country, not off to work or anything.

Was wondering about going for cycling shoes as I'm just wearing my trainers... think I will look into getting some.

DD will be my main companion at the weekend. She's 12, but can easily leave me in the dust at the moment! Her endurance is much better than mine, and I regularly hear 'I feel quite fresh' after we've been out for over an hour! Had great fun racing down a hill with her on the last bit of our journey... brilliant!

DH has just booked us 2 nights away next week in the area where there will be some cycling shops... very exciting!! He'll probably bring his bike down, and then hopefully we'll pick up something for me and then go off round Loch Ness or Aviemore area! smile

VivaLeBeaver Tue 11-Sep-12 07:12:35

How about a Specialzed Tricross? I've just got one and love it. Looks like a road bike but has the mounts so you can fit a rack/panniers on it. Its meant to be a more "relaxed" fit than a road bike so more comfy. I've not ridden a road bike but I do find the Tricross comfy.

MommyUpNorth Tue 11-Sep-12 10:58:16

Thanks for the website IAGTBF, and thanks Viva... I'll add that type to my list of bikes to look at! smile

JRsandCoffee Tue 11-Sep-12 11:07:06

You know you're rural when Thurso and Wick constitute shopping opportunities and Inverness the bright lights ;-) Must be absolutely LOVELY, I must say that sort of rural has huge appeal for yours truly but er, doesn't really match DH's job terribly well........ I'm suspecting we could have a cracking discussion about the excitement of catalogues dropping onto the doormat (used to be pretty into the sticks north of Glasvegas) and despite the internet have never quite recovered from the delight of the catalogue!!! The only other person I've encountered who really got it was someone who lived in the wilds of Wales!!!

I ramble, out of interest........the roads are really, really quiet round there? Hmmm, interesting........the one thing I don't like about road riding ironically is the traffic and I also like quiet holiday destinations and let's face it.....probably not that tourist dense, even in high season.......hmmmmmmmm, thinks ahead......

Trying to remember the bike shops of Aviemore now, I nearly bought some shoes in one the last time I was up. It is lovely round there, we'll be there just a couple of weeks after you the difference being we're coming from the opposite end of the country smile

MommyUpNorth Tue 11-Sep-12 11:32:25

Exceptionally quiet! On our 11 mile trip we were only passed by 1 van! smile And yes, even in the high tourist times it's still very very quiet. We see a few cyclists passing the house every now and then, but not too often.

I think the best thing is that so far all the cars I've seen on the main road (myself included) always give cyclists a very large distance when passing. My biggest fear is being knocked into a ditch somewhere and then of course no one actually passing by for ages.

I'd like to go over an cycle in Sutherland as I imagine you wouldn't pass anything but a sheep or 2... but that will be a longer term goal I think! It's just so beautiful and quiet over there.

Will probably have a good look at the shops in Aviemore, but they are so expensive! I'll jot down everything I like and then order online when we get back home. grin

Ha! Just had 3 catalogues (plus Radio Times) drop through the letterbox! smile Know just what you mean... will have a browse through cosy jumpers later today!

Abzs Tue 11-Sep-12 11:44:50

I'd guess the Highland Council don't have a particularly big pothole budget - the City and Shire down here don't... So something a bit sturdy like a hybrid, cross bike or tourer would be a good idea. Stronger than a road bike, but not as heavy as a mountain bike and mudguard/brake clearance for a range of smooth or (slightly) knobbly tyres. I have a Revolution (Edinburgh Bicycle Co-op) tourer.

When you're in Aviemore, check if Bothy Bikes are having ex-hire sale this year. I got my mountain bike from them ex-hire. It's usually around October - may be after the holidays. They do some good route maps too, for local rides - I recommend the Burma Rd/Sluggan Bridge one.

JRsandCoffee Tue 11-Sep-12 12:11:27

Abzs Oooh, I nearly bought a Revolution before I fell in love with Pandora panorama....added to which I'd have had to buy the revolution unseen as Edinburgh lots of miles north and didn't want to do that! Did get good write ups though!

Good point re Bothy Bikes that was the name I couldn't remember..... Mummy... I nearly bought some shoes there a couple of years back but they didn't quite fit so left it as there wasn't time for them to get them in the right size before we left, maybe look there for those? Agree aviemore is expensive although there is the joy of trying on....

The joy of catalogues wink personal favourites include........ Celtic Sheepskin, Brora (even smells expensive), Peruvian Connection (for that elusive lottery win), Seasalt....... bella di notte (not a decent knicker shop for miles around) the list goes on, I peruse lovingly and then place reverently in the recycling get myself into the sale section of the relevant website if I really must or indeed physically into TK Maxx.......

I'm loving the idea of the very north for a holiday in a couple of years.....If I spend the time between birth and then getting fit, put the dog in the basket on the front of DH's bike, the (yet to be born) by then toddler in a trailer on the back of his bike and a few kilos of potatoes in some paniers for him I should just about be able to keep up....... If you see such a sight passing your door sometime in 2014 you can be fairly sure it will be me wink

I'm off now to cry in a corner as just thought of House of Bruar where we usually stop for a don't look at the prices lunch enroute, traditionally involving those amazing big prawns.......except this year I can't.......SOB!!! Coronation chicken is nice but not the bloody same.......

MommyUpNorth Wed 12-Sep-12 13:24:33

If anyone is still about... DH put out a few questions to the bikers at his work, and then yesterday went to see a second hand bike which came up & has been cleaned up at a bike shop (which we discounted before as no one had anything good to say about it!)...

Anyway, I went along today to do a few test drives, and the one that they thought met my needs was a Giant FCR3 and it is such a lovely ride! I can't believe how light and quick it is! He let me lift up a few more bikes which were much heavier, and I tried another Giant, a Dawes Vantage, and some others...

Do you just go with the one that feels great, or should I really shop around more? I thought as it's second hand and feels like a nice ride I would just get it, and then if I want to upgrade I can still pass it on to dd as she's rapidly approaching my size! DH also said that his mountain bike I've been riding is really more my size than his... so may end up with 2 bikes at the end of this! smile

Oh, and they'll throw in the pannier rack as well if that helps with the decision! smile

I told him I would sleep on it and let him know in the morning...

lljkk Wed 12-Sep-12 13:44:42

Just get it, honest, you know you like it & that's good enough. Down the line with more miles under your belt you'll have a better idea what other features you might like, and what is reasonable to spend to get what you want.

FCR3 has a good review here.

Dawes vantage good review here too, but go with the one you liked better.

Thistledew Wed 12-Sep-12 14:00:20

Hi MommyUpNorth

Do come and sign in to the cycling chat thread here

Giant are a decent brand, so if you like it, there is no reason not to go for it. The biggest difference you will feel between different bikes is a) the type of bike (mtb, road, cyclo-cross, hybrid); b) what it is made of (aluminium, steel, carbon); and c) the components on it (the make and spec of shifters, cassettes etc). I recently bought a new road bike and like you felt that maybe I should be trying out loads of different makes and types before I bought. In the end, I only tried 3 bikes, and ended up buying the one which provided me with the highest spec for my money. It felt comfortable when I rode it, but apart from that I didn't see much point in trying to make a detailed comparison between the feel of X road bike and Y road bike.

If I were you I would try out a road bike, a tourer/cyclo-cross bike and a hybrid before you make up your mind. You should notice a difference in feel between them.

Personally, I think that hybrids are quite limiting in terms of how seriously you want to take cycling. They will never be as good as a mountain bike off-road, and will never be as good as a road bike on-road. But if you are intending to keep your distances fairly short and not to be too adventurous then a hybrid may be all you need.

MommyUpNorth Wed 12-Sep-12 14:10:25

Thanks! That's what I want to hear! grin

I've been lurking on the cycling thread for a while, but haven't had the courage to actually post as am so new to it all... but will do in a bit... maybe when the new bike is actually here!

Thistle point taken on the hybrid issue! It may be that I get it and then it is replaced next spring by something better if I feel I need it, but I think right now I'm just going to use it to get out and about on the roads... so why not! smile We've got plenty of space (garage + outbuildings!) so I can see some serious bike obsessions coming up. I think we currently have about 10ish bikes about for the kids, so what's a few more for me! wink

Thistledew Wed 12-Sep-12 14:25:32

Sounds like a good plan if you have the capacity to upgrade when you get a better idea of what you want to do. Remember, there is a precise mathematical calculation that you should do to determine the number of bikes that you should have. This is expressed two ways - x=n+1 and x=s -1

Where x is the number of bikes you need, n is the number of bikes you have, and s is the number of bikes that would cause your partner/spouse to leave you! grin

JRsandCoffee Thu 13-Sep-12 09:18:07

If you absolutely love it then go for it!!! Particularly if you have room to support more bikes on the basis of the calculation above or indeed the N+1 (that being the number of bikes you have plus the one you are currently lusting after equalling the ideal number wink) All the best people collect bikes........honest.........

Happy peddaling!

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